Djiboutian President Ismael Omar Guelleh was unharmed in a shooting at the Horn of Africa country’s main airport in the capital that left three people wounded, Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf said.
A “young” member of the Republican Guard is under arrest after the incident in which Guelleh’s personal physician, Idris Abdi Gala, was shot twice in the chest and a third bullet caused a “small wound” to his head, Youssouf said in a phone interview today. The shooting took place yesterday about five minutes after Guelleh left the airport, where he had arrived after attending a regional summit in neighboring Ethiopia.
“This man started shooting at one of the members of the delegation that came with the president who is his medical doctor,” Youssouf said. “An investigation is going on to know what are his motivations and why he targeted the doctor.”
Djibouti boosted security since the al-Qaeda-linked militants group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a restaurant in the Horn of Africa nation in May. A Turkish national and several other foreigners were injured in the attack, which was the first suicide bombing in the country’s history.
Djibouti hosts the biggest U.S. military base in Africa at Camp Lemonnier. The U.S. warned its citizens in June of the risk of travel to Djibouti because of “potential terrorist threats.” The U.K. government advised that al-Shabaab plans to carry out further attacks in Djibouti and may target Western interests.
“So far we cannot confirm that this incident has anything to do with al-Shabaab or al-Qaeda,” Youssouf said. “The result of the inquiry will give us a clearer picture of why this happened.”
The injured doctor is a colonel in the Republican Guard and the names of the two other victims haven’t been released, he said.
Djibouti, about the size of the U.S. state of New Jersey, has a $1.2 billion economy that relies on services related to the country’s location on the Red Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.